A new economic reality


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January 15, 2016 12:00 AM

Lloydminster’s Economic Development website surprisingly shows only 13.8 per cent of our workforce as being employed in oil and gas extraction.
Perhaps another 2.7 per cent can be added as management, administrative and technical.
Yet without that 13.8 per cent, there likely wouldn’t be the 15.3 per cent presently employed in retail, 11 per cent in construction, and 6.7 per cent in accommodation and food services, etc.
The drastic correction in oil pricing appears to be continuing well into the future and affecting everyone to varying degrees.
Although the comparable higher prices for goods and services still enduring in Lloydminster makes one question that.
In turn you have to forgive me for appearing more sympathetic toward the citizen who bears the economic downturn and continued high consumer prices than toward those businesses and landlords clinging to artificially high prices.
I certainly can relate to all those who came here from all over Canada to find well-paying jobs.
I feel especially bad for those who weren’t here long to get properly established and are now faced with having to move again.
I have always had good jobs rather than a career and as a result my wife and I found ourselves moving on a regular basis to follow the jobs, always applying transferable skills learned in previous employment to a completely different job in a different sector.
We certainly weathered our share of hardships, but were able to deal with it better than a lot of people who are caught in this predicament today.
I recognized the uncertainty of employment conditions early in life and that continued —  employment was not an entitlement.
But my best advice came from an interview with philanthropist billionaire Richard Branson where, when asked for the one thing he felt contributed most to his success, he replied, “Having an acceptable exit strategy.”
Before making any purchase or entering into any venture, he asked himself what the costs of having to leave or change direction would be.
And if the consequences of having to exit were unacceptable, he would not proceed.
As a result, I have strived throughout my life to position myself where my employer needed me as much or more than I needed him or her.
That was to insure I wasn’t living so far beyond my means that I was stuck in my job and therefore vulnerable to an abusive employer and economic downturns.  And you tend to learn quickly not to dig yourself into a hole if you only have yourself to rely on and nothing to fall back on.
So, although I am very sympathetic to the plight many are facing today, I can’t help but shake my head when I hear blame directed at OPEC or a change in government.
OPEC, the provincial NDP and the federal Liberal governments most certainly did not convince anyone to put themselves into a position where they have a crippling mortgage instead of a modest one.
Nor did they force anyone to buy a garage and driveway full of expensive vehicles and toys on credit.
The only blamable outside force are the people and entities that encouraged them into participating in precarious extravagance without an exit strategy.
But blame is unproductive at a time when everyone should be pulling together to adjust to the new reality.
But apparently no one explained that to former Conservative (Sask Party) MLA and present CAPP president Tim McMillan, who was recently in town hyping a politically charged and incorrect premise that Canadians hate the oil industry.
He was on on a mission to recruit free labour to disseminate partisan propaganda.
I wonder if his shameless inciting of families to fight at the dinner table may be a contravention of section 319.(1) of the criminal code for Public Incitement of Hatred.
Such a call to action by an environmental group would have been defined as terrorism under Harper. Canadians are pragmatic and fully understand the role and importance of the oil industry in our economy.
Contrary to what McMillan is trying to sell, opposition was not toward the petroleum industry but to federal and provincial conservative government’s preoccupation with the best interests of the petroleum industry too often being at the expense of those who they were elected to represent.
He also wrongly accuses Canadians who want to reduce emissions for the sake of our collective future of being liars and enemies and says he has “facts” to counter these lies.
Facts presumably derived from the remnants of the outgoing Alberta conservative government’s attempt to shred all environmental documents and a decade of Harper gagging scientists.
Support for the petroleum industry can’t be garnered by insulting Canadian’s intelligence nor by employing the failed, divisive and distasteful “us and them” conservative tactic.
Now is the time to heed Albert Einstein who said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we use when we created them.”

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